Speedway — one of the largest employers in Clark County in the midst of a large national expansion — wants to hire more veterans.
The Enon-bases company announced Tuesday it has joined the U.S. Army’s Partnership for Youth Success job program. It was started in 2000 to help veterans transition from military service to a career in the civilian world, said Lt. Col. Clydellia Prichard-Allen, an Army recruiting commander based in Columbus.
The unemployment rate for veterans who’ve enlisted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is 7.2 percent, based on the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The latest national unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in June.
“It has been hard,” Prichard-Allen said. “We’ve had veterans that are homeless, veterans who didn’t have the opportunities that we’re actually initiating now. And that’s one of the most important things about this program that we have.”
Speedway joins the Army program as it continues to move ahead with the $2.8 billion acquisition of Hess Retail Holdings, one of the largest convenience store chains on the East Coast. That acquisition roughly doubled Speedway’s size, leading to the need for more jobs locally and making it one of the largest convenience store chains in the U.S.
More than 550 companies nationwide have partnered with the Army through the PaYS program. The Army matches businesses with new recruits based on training they will receive while in the service.
Their training focuses on job skills companies are looking for in future employees, said Crancena Ross, analyst with the PaYS program.
After military men and women have completed their service, they are then guaranteed at least a job interview with their PaYS partner, Ross said.
The ethics the military instills in soldiers are the same qualities business owners look for in new hires, Speedway CEO Anthony Kenney said.
“You think about the values that young soldiers have coming into the workforce — it’s about team, it’s about respect, integrity and honor. Those are the things that really help a business be successful,” Kenney said.
About 500 veterans are employed with Speedway nationwide and are a part of the workforce that the company wants to grow.
“One of our values is respecting diversity among our employees and diversity is also defined by the background and the kind of experience one has had,” Kenney said.
The gas station and convenience store giant decided to partner with the Army for the program because its purchase of Hess spread the company into 22 of the 50 states, Kenney added, with up to thousands of positions to be filled.
“Our local recruiting group here at Speedway has continued to grow and we’re thinking of creative ways to bring talent to the company,” he said.
The expansion has had a great impact locally, Kenney said, with jobs added at its Enon headquarters and a recent move into the NextEdge Technology Park.
In the next few years Speedway has promised to create 350 jobs in Clark County. Speedway currently employs about 1,000 people in its Clark County offices, not including its stores.
Speedway said the partnership with PaYS could employ numerous veterans both locally and nationally.
“It could be hundreds, maybe even thousands over time, that we would look for opportunities to interview and potentially hire coming out of the army as part of this program,” Kenney said.
To young recruits just beginning their time, the promise of help when their military commitment ends is a relief. Brittany Kozak, a 17-year-old Enon resident, signed up for the PaYS program when she enlisted in June.
“It makes me feel comfortable that if I go through the military and give my years, I’ll have kind of a safety net, that they’ll be watching over me and that I get on the right track after (my time),” said Kozak, who will leave for basic training in September.
Speedway also has refurbished its existing stations and stores in Clark County to make them more attractive to customers.
The chain recently rebuilt a heavily used location in Springfield at 1147 N. Limestone St. That new location includes a full-service convenience store and Speedy Cafe that allows customers to order food from a self-serve kiosk. The store had about 2,200 square feet; the rebuilt version is now closer to 3,900 square feet.
Construction has also started on a 4,000-square-foot, updated convenience store on North Main Street in New Carlisle.
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